“A study on masculinity and aggression from the University of South Florida found that innocuous – yet feminine – tasks could produce profound anxiety in men. As part of the study, a group of men were asked to perform a stereotypically feminine act – braiding hair in this case - while a control group braided rope. Following the act, the men were given the option to either solve a puzzle or punch a heavy bag. Not surprisingly, the men who performed the task that threatened their masculinity were far more likely to punch the bag; again, violence serving as a way to reestablish their masculine identity. A follow-up had both groups punch the bag after braiding either hair or rope; the men who braided the hair punched the bag much harder. A third experiment, all the participants braided hair, but were split into two groups: those who got to punch the bag afterwards and those who didn’t. The men who were prevented from punching the bag started to show acute signs of anxiety and distress from not being able to reconfirm their masculinity.”—Doctor Nerdlove, "When Masculinity Fails Men" (via sepiacircus)
“We praise people for being “naturally” smart, too, “naturally” athletic, and etc. But studies continue to show, as they have for some time now, that it is generally healthier to praise schoolchildren for being hardworking, than for being naturally gifted. We know now that to emphasize a child’s inherent ability places pressure on that child to continue to be accidentally talented, which is something that is hard for anyone to control. When the children who are applauded for their natural skills fail, they are shown to take the failure very personally. After all, the process of their success has always seemed mysterious and basic and inseparable from the rest of their identity, so it must be they who are failing as whole people. When students are instead complimented and rewarded for their effort and improvement, they tend to not be so hard on themselves. When they fail, they reason, “Well, I’ll work harder next time.” They learn that they are capable of success, rather than constantly automatically deserving of it, and they learn simultaneously that they are bigger and more complex than their individual successes or failures.”—Kate of Eat the Damn Cake, The Stupidity of “Natural” Beauty (via theimperfectascent)
“I want to forget everything you told me. I want to wash away how uncertain you made me. How scared I was of losing you. How I lost you anyway. I don’t want to know how your hands feel or what makes you smile. I don’t want to see you in photos, familiar like a dream I had once or a book I never finished. I don’t want to speak about you in snippets or think about how I behaved. Or know that I still think about it. Or know that I still think about it. Or know that you’re not just a lamp or a blade of grass, indistinguishable from the rest.
"As long as I love you, I am not free," I sent to you, thinking I was being cute. And it was woeful foreshadowing.
Dear Prudence, My girlfriend and I are having a disagreement. I posed to her the following hypothetical situation: Would you rescue from fire and certain destruction the last surviving copy on earth of the complete works of Shakespeare or a single puppy? My girlfriend says that she would rescue the puppy because the puppy is a fellow living being. She is highly educated and claims to have great respect for Shakespeare. But I think my girlfriend’s choice is the wrong one. I would rescue the Shakespeare, not just because of the aesthetic enjoyment we get from his work but also because of all the moral insight it provides us (including possibly the insight that enables the concept of animal rights in the first place). We’ve argued a lot about this. I cannot take her answer seriously, but I find it rather disturbing nonetheless. She never rejected the hypothetical question out of hand or said that the two things aren’t even comparable. She says that preserving a living conscious thing is more valuable than preserving Shakespeare. My girlfriend loves animals, especially her poodle, and is a die-hard vegetarian. I am, on the other hand, obsessed with Shakespeare and rather neutral toward animals. What is the best way for us to defuse this situation? — Fireman
The best way to defuse this situation is … hold on, wait a minute, can we just sit with the idea that your girlfriend seriously believes that animal rights would exist on planet earth in the year 2013 without the specific aid and assistance of the literary works and personal genius of William Shakespeare, the most amazing and important human being ever to walk the earth, and to whom all living beings owe an unimaginable debt of gratitude?
I’m not sure something like this can be “defused,” knowing what you know about your girlfriend’s wholesale lack of character as a human being, discovered only through shrewd wordsmithery of your own, good sir. After all, in the extremely likely event that the two of you are uniquely positioned to save either the complete (and completely amazeballs!) works of William Shakespeare or some fucking mutt, you don’t want to be standing in a fiery building patiently explaining to this dolt what a grotesque embarrassment to rational thinking she is while the most important piece of literature in the known universe burns to a crisp.
Your girlfriend could have answered in any number of acceptable ways to your inquiry (which: what intellectual strength have you, my good friend!), including but not limited to: “Why, I would save the works of William Shakespeare, he who gives this wretched world meaning!” or “Whatever you think is best, Vast God Of Knowledge, Made Man.” Instead, she treated your question like some kind of silly hypothetical, and not the critical indicator of her value as a person that it obviously is.
If the fires of true love are ever to be kindled between two people, they must agree on absolutely everything and have no differences between them whatsoever, as Shakespeare himself taught us in works like Romeo and Juliet, The Taming Of The Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Much Ado About Nothing, in which only ideologically identical people who live in perfect harmonious agreement from the very beginning of their relationships ever succeed in love.
The really horrible thing about quitting drinking is, I think, inside my mind I was so divided against myself. Nobody really talks about what happens to you and your level of self-confidence when you tell yourself every fucking day you’re going to drink X, and then you drink 10 times that—or you’re not going to drink at all and you drink anyway. You become very split off against yourself. So there was a part of me that would yell and scream and say, “You stupid bitch, goddamnit, you said you weren’t gonna drink and you drank anyway.” And there was this other part that was like “Fuck those people! Fuck the rules!” you know, blah blah blah… You assume that when you quit drinking, you’re surrendering to that kind of nasty schoolmarm rule-maker. But for me getting sober has been freedom—freedom from anxiety and freedom from…my head. What has kept me sober is not that strict rule-following schoolmarm. There’s more of a loving presence that you become aware of that is I think everyone’s real, actual self—who we really are.
Blake said, “…we are put on Earth a little space / That we might learn to bear the beams of love.” And I think, quote-unquote, “bearing the beams of love” is where the freedom is, actually. Every drunk is an outlaw, and certainly every artist is. Making amends, to me, is again about freedom. I do that to be free of the past, to not be haunted. That schoolmarm part of me—that hypercritical finger-wagging part of myself that I thought was gonna keep me sober—that was is actually what helped me stay drunk. What keeps you sober is love and connection to something bigger than yourself.
When I got sober, I thought giving up was saying goodbye to all the fun and all the sparkle, and it turned out to be just the opposite. That’s when the sparkle started for me.
“If you enter into healing, be prepared to lose everything. Healing is a ravaging force to which nothing seems sacred or inviolate. As my original pain releases itself in healing, it rips to shreds the structures and foundations I built in weakness and ignorance.”—The Courage to Heal // Ely Fuller