The politics of attire: or, for whom do women dress up?

I recently wrote an article discussing how people use language, such as ‘whore’ or ‘slut’, to lay the ideological foundations to justify violence against women, and subsequently as a means of control. In the article, I wanted to go further than simply make incriminations against men - I also wanted to examine how patriarchal strategies can co-opt women, and turn them into collaborators. Women who dress up may do so with the intention either of ‘gaming the system’ of male libido, or simply to acquire the rights that they are otherwise entitled to, may be actually perpetrating the very system of heterosexual male favouritism that they are resentful towards. In other words, many women are playing - and benefiting from - the very game I thought they would resent.

An existential challenge of travel writing

One parallel between travelling and drug taking, which I failed to catalogue in my thesis, is their respective literature’s failure rates. Regardless of whether we have just taken our first tab of LSD, or had our first Roman holiday, experiences that changed our lives are likely to appear trite and empty to others. It takes an incredible author indeed to deliver a travelogue that doesn’t come across as self-absorbed. Recounting our adventures – be they experienced in our head or on horseback - without sending our audience to sleep is equally difficult.

There are no answers, only choices: skirting the boundaries of cross-cultural understanding

Earth. Even the word sounded strange to me now... unfamiliar. How long had I been gone? How long had I been back? Did it matter? I tried to find the rhythm of the world where I used to live. I followed the current. I was silent, attentive, I made a conscious effort to smile, nod, stand, and perform the millions of gestures that constitute life on earth. I studied these gestures until they became reflexes again. But I was haunted by the idea that I remembered her wrong, and somehow I was wrong about everything.

Staying honest and in love in the social network orgy

“And so the reddit orgy begins … self-fulfilling prophecy much?” a redditor recently commented on one of my blog posts, in which I was exploring how we consume information on the web in much the same way as we consume goods in RL. I suspect that he or she had caught onto the fact that I was in the process of submitting several of my other articles to various subreddits, and they were referring to how (by undertaking such mass-submission) I was falling into the exact routine that I was criticising.

Do we really want our Significant Other to be less gender-typical?

Most of us have probably had to listen to friends of the opposite sex tell us that we should behave less gender-stereotypical. For instance, if we’re a guy, we’ve probably had women tell us that we should cry more; and I’m guessing more than a few women have heard guys tell them that they should be more assertive. However, I suspect that the first thought that comes to all of our minds at that point for both sexes is ‘No - you really don’t.’ Women will often ask men – ‘Be more in touch with your emotions; be more expressive.’ However, at risk of casting some enormous and erroneous generalizations, I believe there are few moments that a man is more ‘in touch with his emotions’ than when he is competing against another man – which is not always a pleasant sight.

Toeing the party line in gender politics

I have been writing quite a lot here about instructive topics such as why we should make ourselves redundant and compassionately detached, and why we do not need to love our jobs. I file these under life hacking – yet they are much broader in scope and instructive than tactics for greater productivity. Rather, they are 50 per cent lifestyle design, and 50 per cent makeshift life coaching. Such posts distill insights gleamed from blogs that I follow or books that I have read, often simply function as ‘notes to self’, and – as I’m starting to appreciate – present a running commentary of what someone who has had my upbringing would think.

This was supposed to be the future!

“They lied to us. This was supposed to be the future. Where is my jetpack? Where is my robotic companion? Where is my dinner in pill form? Where is my hydrogen fuelled automobile? Where is my nuclear-powered levitating home? Where is my cure for this disease?” - John Slabyk
I think I had a significant advantage as a child over ‘grown ups’ when it came to dealing with the procession of time, and my place in it. At risk of sounding sentimental, as a child, I had a much greater imagination – which let me deal with the present – but I also had greater ambition, which let me mentally construct a much more colourful future. I might have been incredibly impatient with the status quo – yet it was the simplest of pleasures that provided the greatest amusement.

Why I embraced science fiction as a kid

“Fantasy is the mother genre — e.g. Gilgamesh, the Illad, Odyssey and most religions. Sci Fi is the brash offshoot. All literature has deep roots in fantasy, which in turn emerges from the font of our dreams. Having said that, what is my definition of the separation? I think it is very basic, revolving around the notion of human improvability. ‘Do you believe it is possible for children to learn from the mistakes of their parents?’” – David Brin

As a sixteen and seventeen year-old, I would frequently debate about ‘youth rights’ with any adult who had the misfortune of being nearby. In spite of my penchant for sustained debate, I couldn’t get over their view that young people deserved little or no autonomy - that we were stupid, ugly caterpillars in a world run by (and for) butterflies. According to him or her, we possessed no moral agency or personal sovereignty until we hit 18. Consequently, they expected my peers and I to resign ourselves to enduring this unfortunate biological period called ‘youth’ before we had evolved into ‘real people’. This frustrated me to no end since this implied that in their eyes, I was a ‘non-person’.